Tag Archives: Lucas Paqueta

Colombia 0-0 Brazil (Hexagonal Group Stage, Matchday 5, 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20, 11 February 2017)

The second game which took place on the final Hexagonal Matchday of the 2017 U-20 South American Youth Championship saw Colombia face Brazil, with the latter needing a win to progress to the World Cup. Below are video highlights, a brief summary of the game and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-spotting… 


(Source: Wikipedia)

Colombia 0-0 Brazil

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Hexagonal Group Stage, 11 February 2017 (YouTube)

Perhaps it was their fitness levels, perhaps it was their lack of teamwork and/or ability, but whatever it was, Brazil did not have enough of it and thus will not be going to the Under-20 World Cup. With just one point in four games, Colombia – who rested some notable players – appeared to be there for the taking, but Brazil were unable to find a way through and, despite some first-half attempts, seemed almost resigned to their fate from a relatively premature stage. Overall, the closest they came to a goal was a first-half header from Richarlison in space, which was well-blocked by Colombian goalkeeper Luis García. Their opponents may not have offered much going forward but they didn’t need to and thus Brazil will not be attending the tournament that they have won five times in the past.

Talent Spotting

colombia Colombia

With Juan ‘El Cucho’ Hernández (No. 10, América de Cali, on loan from Granada, Spain) and Ever Valencia (No. 13, Atlético Bucaramanga) starting on the bench, it was evident from the start that there was not likely to be many forward forays from the already eliminated side. Instead, it proved to be a rare moment for the defence to shine and frustrate as, with perhaps the exception of one or two chances, they rarely allowed Brazil a good sight of goal. Given that they had already beaten their opponents 1-0 in the first group stage, perhaps more people should have seen this result coming.

The handful of times that they knocked the ball vaguely in the direction of the opposition goal were largely the result of long range shots from the likes of substitute Hernández and a couple from Julián Quiñones (No. 7, Tigres, Mexico). Their best chance came in the 43rd minute when a decent quick-paced move ended with a nudge into the path of Jorge Obregón (No. 19, Unión Magdalena) just inside the area, though his poked effort was easy for the goalkeeper to stop.

That was all that they had to say for themselves. One can not help but feel that their campaign would have turned out quite differently had striker Damir Ceter (two goals in two games) not been injured early on in the tournament, as they undoubtedly have some talented supporting attackers in their squad.

brazilflag Brazil

They needed to win and, though with less intensity than Argentina against Venezuela, they did go for it in the first half, but ultimately came across as a tad toothless. These opportunities were the closest that they came to scoring:

In the 11th minute, Felipe Vizeu (No. 9, Flamengo) burst into the area along the left byline and shot from a tight angle, though this was blocked out by the goalkeeper. Five minutes later, left-back Guilherme Arana (No. 6, Corinthians) put in a wicked cross from his flank which begged for a touch but evaded those in the centre. Not long afterwards in the 21st minute, Richarlison (No. 18, Fluminense) passed the ball towards the dee where Lucas Paqueta (No. 10, Flamengo) struck a shot with intent, though it went at the goalkeeper. The 28th minute yielded Brazil’s best opportunity to score when Dodô (No. 2, Coritiba) crossed in from the right towards the back post where he found Richarlison in space, but his header was well-saved. Seven minutes later, Dodô put in another good ball from his flank and Richarlison again went to attack it but this time a defender narrowly beat him to the ball and headed out. Lastly, Brazil’s final attacking moment of actual note came as early as the 58th minute when, on the left and seemingly set to cross, Arana instead shot, catching the goalkeeper by surprise who had to punch out from virtually underneath his crossbar.

Alas, though it was a somewhat meek departure with a far-from-vintage crop of players, they did ultimately only miss out on qualification by a mere point and do nevertheless possess several individuals one expects to see more of in upcoming years. Whether or not they become regular fixtures of the senior side is another matter, but there has been plenty of evidence over the past 25 days to suggest that, on average, their players may enjoy more successful club careers than most of the rivals they faced.

The two other games played on the fifth and final Hexagonal Matchday were Argentina vs Venezuela and Ecuador vs Uruguay – talent-spotting articles have also been published for these two encounters. 

Otherwise, to keep track with the careers of these and many other talented South Americans, please follow @DarrenSpherical on Twitter.

Darren Spherical


Day 3 – 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20 (Brazil 0-0 Chile & Ecuador 4-3 Colombia)

On the third day of the 2017 edition of the prestigious U-20 South American Youth Championship, attention turned back to Group A, with Brazil taking on Chile and hosts Ecuador facing Colombia. Below are video highlights, brief summaries of each game and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-spotting…


(Source: Wikipedia)

Brazil 0-0 Chile

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Group A, 20 January 2017 (YouTube)

An ill-tempered and ugly game with six yellow cards and two reds (including one for a substitute), this was also a match of poor quality, though Chile deserve some praise for holding out for over 60 minutes with ten men. Brazil somewhat fortuitously hit the post towards the end of a very lacklustre first half, yet though they saw more of the ball, ultimately they did not do enough to convince that they deserved a win. La Rojita, whilst largely constrained, created a few chances; it will be interesting to see what they are capable of if they can improve their discipline, though they do find themselves in a rather competitive group.

Talent Spotting

brazilflag Brazil

The performance of David Neres (No. 11, São Paulo) was by no means exceptional but he nevertheless deserves highlighting for exhibiting one particular moment of intent – a quality that was often lacking in his side. In the 62nd minute, seemingly tired of the lethargy of those around him, he rampaged into the area from the right, evading at least two challenges before striking hard with his left boot, forcing a parry. The rebound by his team-mate was also stopped and then knocked off the line, but nevertheless, this was the sort of wake-up call an underperforming side needs; perhaps he can provide the catalyst in future games.

Felipe Vizeu (No. 9, Flamengo) was the forward who unsuccessfully attempted on the stretch to hook in the rebound to Neres’ shot. Earlier on at the end of the first half, he had also instinctively diverted the long-range strike of Caio Henrique (No. 7, Atlético Madrid) onto the post. Otherwise, as with his fellow attacking team-mates such as Lucas Paqueta (No. 10, Flamengo), Richarlison (No. 18, Fluminense) and Douglas Luiz (No. 8, Vasco da Gama), he was often lurking around the area but struggling to cause much discomfort. Lucas Paqueta’s most memorable contribution was a low shot from outside the area which drew a good save, Richarlison’s was a nifty turn before a weak cross, whereas Luiz, despite looking assured on the ball, skied over the bar more than once. All three men were withdrawn well before the final whistle.

A brief word for goalkeeper Caíque (No. 23, Vitória). Though he was mocked for a first-half air-kick (which was mostly likely the fault of the bobbly pitch), he otherwise looked alert, more than once anticipating trouble from long balls early on and rushing out his area to intercept. Though he will face sterner tests in the upcoming days, it can not pass completely without comment that he has so far kept two clean sheets.

chileflag Chile

Playing with ten men for an hour, Chile did not have too many opportunities to show what they can do and so it is more their rearguard that is deserving of praise. Yours truly has to confess that he did not notice one particular defender being conspicuously more integral than any of the others, but two South American football observers singled out certain individuals. Indeed, Victor Grao praised Canada-born left-back Cristián Gutiérrez (No. 4, Colo Colo), while Tom Webber was taken by centre-back Francisco Sierralta (No. 13, Palestino, on loan from Granada, Spain). Although Brazil did not make the most of their one-man advantage and shots did not rain down upon the Chilean goal, goalkeeper Gonzalo Collao (No. 1, Universidad de Chile) nevertheless also certainly played his part in keeping a clean sheet. Indeed, his most impressive moment came in the 62nd minute when he first saved Neres’ strike and then stretched to get a glove on Vizeu’s rebound; the ball subsequently went up in the air and then dipped goalwards but Sierralta was on hand to clear.

From an attacking perspective, though Chile were hindered by the man-disadvantage, they did show a few glimpses of what they can do in the final third. Indeed, the man who received the red card, Jeisson Vargas (No. 10, Estudiantes de La Plata, Argentina, on loan from Bologna, Italy), had actually looked like one of their leading threats, particularly in the fifth minute when he struck a well-hit free-kick from a difficult position on the left that Caíque had to tip over. Ignacio Jara (No. 15, Cobreloa) was another one who had looked lively yet left the field early, in his case substituted off at half time. He was responsible for a 29th-minute curling cross from the right with his left boot that narrowly missed the heads of those who leapt for it and ultimately had to be clawed out for a corner by Caíque, lest it creep past him into the goal. Three minutes later, he created a better opportunity when his dinked ball into the area was headed weakly by a defender, falling kindly to Gabriel Suazo (No. 8, Colo Colo); he instinctively hooked an attempt, though it rose a couple of yards over the bar.

In the second half, forward forays were rare but two of slight interest did occur, with Richard Paredes (No. 9, Palestino) involved in both. The first, after 70 minutes, saw him burst from the halfway line into the left side of the area; it seemed as if Lucas Paqueta may have brought him down but the Chilean was immediately back on his feet and turned with half a sight of goal to hit a rasping, if rather wild, shot which ultimately went well wide of the target. The second chance occurred just three minutes later when he met a long, diagonal ball into the area, though his header was rather tame and caught easily by Caíque.

Overall the match was far from a classic and one wonders what kind of attacking threat Chile will pose with 11 men (including Vargas when he returns from suspension). They did show glimpses of potential and if they take a page out of the book of Carlos Lobos (No. 21, Universidad Católica) – whose 50th-minute strike from the halfway line only went a few yards over the bar – they could turn out to be well worth tuning in for.

 Ecuador 4-3 Colombia

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Group A, 20 January 2017 (YouTube)

The locals who came early to the Estadio Olímpico de Riobamba were rewarded for their perseverance through the preceding drab affair with this goal-glut in which their compatriots dramatically gained their first win. The match was a very fluid, end-to-end encounter, containing enough action for at least four matches, so let’s stick with the goals for now:

Colombia took the lead after 6 minutes when Damir Ceter spectacularly struck home from just outside the area. Subsequently, the hosts had their chances but it was Jorge Obregón who got the second goal of the game, slotting into an open goal after goalkeeper José Cevallos had denied Ceter. However, shortly afterwards, the comeback began when, in the 41st minute, Pervis Estupiñán was on hand in the area to strike and thus halve the deficit. Just seven minutes after the restart, Ecuador were on level terms after a ball that looped up in the air following a corner came down to be volleyed in with controlled aplomb by Joel Quintero. Four minutes later, the hosts then temporarily achieved the scoreline reversal by going ahead via a Bryan Cabezas spot-kick, following a completely unnecessary foul by goalkeeper Manuel Arias. However, Colombia did not entirely succumb to the forces of fatalism as, in the 74th minute, they were level again when, at the second attempt, substitute Ever Valencia tapped in a wicked low cross at the back post. One would have thought that the two teams would settle for three goals apiece but in the closing minutes Ecuador, buoyed by their substitutes, ramped up their efforts for a winner. They got their reward in the 92nd minute when two of their fresher players combined to nab a memorable victory: Wilter Ayoví crossed in from the inside-right for Jordy Caicedo to head in off the post. Cue bedlam in Riobamba.

Talent Spotting

ecuadorflag Ecuador

Four goals scored but all by different players and not one individual could say they played a strong role in more than one of them. Thus, though it feels that there were many candidates for Man of the Match, not one had a clear claim.

Nevertheless, plenty impressed and one who particularly caught the eye – and not just for his exceptional name – was Pervis Estupiñán (No. 6, Granada, Spain). Nominally a left-back, given his strength and skill on the ball, an advanced position further up the pitch – where he was often found in this match – may prove to be his true calling. Indeed, with his roams, he drew some free-kicks, one of which he took himself early on; this was a good effort, dipping and swerving not too far wide of the past. Deserves credit for starting the fightback in the 41st minute with a strong left-footed strike that was too much for goalkeper Arias. He’s another player at this tournament with international pedigree in the family – his uncle, Jorge Guagua, has over 60 caps for La Tri.

Although he was only on the pitch for about 25 minutes, Wilter Ayoví (No. 8, Independiente Del Valle) played a significant role in leading the charge for the fourth goal. Indeed, he had chances to score, such as in the 77th minute when he struck across goal and came within a whisker of the far post – at least two other shots were either parried out or went narrowly wide.  However, it seemed as if he was going to leave the match a very frustrated – and perhaps slightly haunted – man as, in stoppage-time, he side-footed a cut-back wide of a largely unguarded net. Perhaps the ball came to him too quickly but he nevertheless made up for this barely 30 seconds later when he crossed in for the winning goal.

From the off, his club team-mate Washington Corozo (No. 7, Independiente Del Valle) was also never too far away from the final third. His most significant contribution was the short pass for Estupiñán’s goal, but he could have had another assist had Ayoví converted his cross-goal effort. He was involved in many moves and had a shot on target in the last ten minutes; his best chance was way back in the 7th minute when he latched onto a bouncing forward pass, hooked it over the goalkeeper but, unfortunately for him, also over the bar.

The player who played this ball upfield into Corozo’s stride was Jordan Sierra (No. 15, Delfin), a man who was given a start after coming on as a substitute in Ecuador’s first game. As with that match against Brazil, here he also tried his luck from range, most notably in the 45th minute when, from over 40 yards out, his dipping strike ended up just a yard or two over the bar. Other teams take heed: do not give this man a wide berth.

Otherwise, some quick praise for the following: Joao Rojas (No. 17, Emelec) for again putting in some dangerous set-pieces, most notably the one that caused the confusion which led to the second Ecuador goal, volleyed in with admirable composure by centre-back Joel Quintero (No. 3, Emelec). Bryan Cabezas (No. 10, Atalanta, Italy), for keeping his cool to slot home the penalty for 3-2, as well as continuing from the first match his tendency to be a frequent nuisance to defenders and being able to get into good positions. Herlin Lino (No. 9, Barcelona SC, Ecuador) for robbing a defender and then drawing the – admittedly stupid – foul from goalkeeper Arias to win the penalty, as well as for putting in a fine low cross for Cabezas early on. Lastly, credit to Jordy Caicedo (No. 19, Universidad Católica, Ecuador) for showing great mental character and belief; having been dropped after the first game, he came on as a substitute in the 87th minute and 5 minutes later he got onto the end of Ayoví’s cross to head home for a memorable win.

colombia Colombia

Though their defence and their – possibly ill, if not injured, goalkeeper – did not come out of this with flying colours, some of Colombia’s attack certainly impressed, particularly in the first half.

Damir Ceter (No. 9, Santa Fe), for one, as he repaid some of the faith his manager showed by starting him here, having come on as a goalscoring substitute in their previous match with Paraguay. Indeed, he left many with open mouths when he became the first name on the scoresheet with a fantastic 6th-minute golazo following a knock-down. He could well have scored again when he dispossessed a defender and charged into the area, but ultimately his heavy touch caused him to overrun the ball. However, though the opposition goalkeeper dispossessed Ceter, the ball nevertheless fell to Jorge Obregón (No. 19, Unión Magdalena), who did well to strike into the inviting net to double Colombia’s lead.

Juan ‘El Cucho’ Hernández (No. 10, América de Cali, on loan from Granada, Spain) again showed glimpses of why he’s already been snapped up by a European side noted for their intrepid scouting. He set up Ceter’s goal with his chest and should probably have scored himself in the 13th minute when he was played through, but his shot was too close to the goalkeeper.

Otherwise, brief praise for Kevin Balanta (No. 8, Deportivo Cali), who played Hernández in for his main opportunity, though a second yellow of the tournament means he misses the next game. Also, a simple note to state that whilst it was a great low ball to the back post that found Ever Valencia (No. 13, Atlético Bucaramanga) to make it 3-3, the goalscorer shouldn’t really have needed two bites at the cherry to do so.

To keep up-to-date with the latest from Ecuador 2017, please follow @DarrenSpherical on Twitter. The next games will be Peru vs Bolivia and Argentina vs Uruguay from Group B – expect to see another bout of talent-spotting from these encounters on Hispanospherical.com. 

Darren Spherical


Day 1 – 2017 Sudamericano Sub-20 (Colombia 1-1 Paraguay & Ecuador 0-1 Brazil)

The opening day of the 2017 edition of the prestigious U-20 South American Youth Championship saw Group A get under way, with Colombia taking on Paraguay and hosts Ecuador facing Brazil. Below are video highlights, brief summaries of each game and, most importantly, @DarrenSpherical‘s armchair talent-spotting… 


(Source: Wikipedia)

Colombia 1-1 Paraguay

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Group A, 18 January 2017 (YouTube).

Colombia largely dominated the game, more frequently getting into advanced positions and confidently playing the ball around. In each half, they both struck the post as well as squandered a one-on-one chance. However, a surprise was briefly on the cards when Sebastián Ferreira controlled a diagonal ball from Blás Riveros and clinically struck home in the 81st minute. Alas, it wasn’t to be for the Paraguayans, as with barely a minute of regulation time left, a corner somewhat fortuitously fell in the direction of substitute Damir Ceter, who hooked home the equaliser.

Talent Spotting

colombia Colombia

Often throughout the game, Colombia displayed more attacking intent, with their forward players appearing to have a better mutual understanding than those of their counterparts. Particularly impressive was Juan Ramírez (No. 21, Atlético Nacional), who showed some trickery to gain himself some space, as well as often seeking out – and finding – his team-mates with a range of balls. Two passes of note were aimed towards close colleague, No. 10, Juan ‘El Cucho’ Hernández. The first was a 30th-minute cross from a right-sided free-kick that reached Hernández in space at the back post area, though his header tamely went to the goalkeeper; the second was an exquisite 58th-minute long ball from some 45-50 yards out that Hernández stretched to latch onto at the byline, but he could not find anyone with his subsequent low cross. Nevertheless, ‘El Cucho’ was another stand-out attacker who those in-the-know are already aware of. Indeed, this 17-year-old netted an astonishing 20 goals in 33 Colombian second division games last season and has recently been snapped up by Granada who, in turn, have loaned him back to América de Cali in his homeland. Like Ramírez, he linked up well and put in some decent crosses; perhaps his most creative moment came in the 31st minute when he did a fine turn before running up the left to play in a fellow team-mate, who unfortunately mis-controlled. This compatriot, Julián Quiñones (No. 7, Tigres, Mexico), the third of the attackers playing behind the striker, by no means had a bad game but will surely bring more to upcoming encounters.

These three men were often trying to feed in Envigado striker, No. 11 Michael Nike Gómez, a man whose name ensures the minions of Hades that lurk in football marketing and advertising will be greasing their palms whilst begging their master to facilitate his rise in the global game. He sometimes came deep but was more frequently the beneficiary of forward passes, such as one in the 21st minute, which he received in the area but, from a one-on-one position, struck too close to the goalkeeper; the rebound was subsequently deflected wide. The man who played him in, holding midfielder Kevin Balanta (No. 8, Deportivo Cali), had been picked out by some to shine pre-game and he may be worth keeping an eye on in future fixtures. Further back, particularly in the first half, left-back Anderson Arroyo (No. 5, Fortaleza) was an eye-catching presence. Just 17 years old, he reportedly went on trial at Liverpool in July 2016 and here could regularly be seen roaming up his flank and looking to make things happen. Though ultimately he was offside, he almost had the ball in the net after 9 minutes when he bustled up the left and bypassed a defender into the area; his pass into the centre then ricocheted back towards him and he poked a strike against the near post. Perhaps Paraguay made a concerted effort to nullify him after the break as the second half saw slightly more of his colleague on the other side, right-back Leyser Chaverra (No. 15, Universitario Popayán). It was he who crossed in the corner for the late equaliser. Damir Ceter (No. 9, Santa Fe) was the man who nudged in the late goal and he has an impressive goalscoring record at club level, netting 14 times in 25 games last season in the Colombian second-flight for Deportes Quindío. With these statistics, many would have backed him in the 74th minute to convert a clear one-on-one chance, but alas he was denied. Lastly, the man whose deflected ball from his own half was responsible for this opportunity, Eduard Atuesta (No. 20, Independiente Medellín), also picked up a loose ball mere seconds later before firing from 25 yards low against the post.

paraguay Paraguay

Regarding Paraguay, there was far less attacking fluidity and intent on display and while some may feel they deserve a lot of credit defensively, as noted, they were caught out by two clear one-on-one opportunities. Thus, if anyone from the rearguard deserves any praise for withstanding Colombian pressure until very late on, it must be goalkeeper Marino Arzamendia (No. 22, Olimpia). Otherwise, La Albirroja‘s attacks came more from set-pieces and, especially, long balls pumped upfield to be either chased or to exploit gaps in the defence. Cristhian Paredes (No. 6, Club América, Mexico), who with a jinking run on the right in the 16th minute showed a glimpse as to why a top Liga MX side has recently snapped him up, was responsible for one such ball. However, his recipient in the 79th minute, Jesús Medina (No. 11, Libertad), struggled to really take the ball in his stride and quickly lost possession. Nevertheless, Medina, having quietly impressed at the last tournament as a 17-year-old, could well prove to be one his country’s key players this time. He often took on set-piece duties and after 41 minutes lofted in a sublime ball from near the halfway line that found its target but was headed over. However, as we know, one long ball did pay off: Left-back Blás Riveros (No. 4, Basel, Switzerland) chipped a fine diagonal ball into the area; the Colombian defence did seem to stand off striker Sebastián Ferreira (No. 19, Olimpia) a tad, but that should take nothing away from his composed low strike home. Although he went off seemingly with a knock not long afterwards, perhaps we will see more of him as well as more varied attack play from his compatriots in the upcoming Paraguay matches.

Ecuador 0-1 Brazil

CONMEBOL U-20 South American Youth Championship 2017, Group A, 18 January 2017 (YouTube)

In a capacity ground full of optimistic locals, though Brazil had the edge for the most part, the strong and combative hosts of Ecuador never gave up their search for a goal in this rather heated fixture. In the first half both sides missed glaring opportunities: Brazil’s came after 16 minutes when Felipe Vizeu scuffed a cut-back over the gaping goal-frame; this, in turn, was followed by the gilt-edged chance in the 33rd minute afforded to Ecuador’s Bryan Cabezas who, one-on-one barely six yards out, mis-hit a shot wide. Less than 25 seconds after the restart, tensions boiled over and would continue to be at a high temperature, as Ecuador’s William Vargas was given his second yellow for a foul on the edge of the area. The hosts acrobatically escaped going behind soon after but could do nothing about Vizeu’s well-executed finish from a Richarlison cross in the 52nd minute. Although Brazil saw more of the ball from then on and could well have doubled their lead, Ecuador were always in the match and, on home soil, should prove strong opposition for any of their Group A opponents.

Talent Spotting

ecuadorflag Ecuador

As an attacking unit, the hosts Ecuador were rather robust and were not shy about taking the game to their opponents, often tenaciously forcing their way into advanced areas. Possibly their most conspicuous performer in this regard was attacking midfielder Bryan Cabezas (No. 10, Atalanta, Italy). More than once, he outpaced defenders on the flanks before knocking in balls. That said, he was responsible for an embarrassing miss in the 33rd minute when he was suddenly – and fortuitously – presented with a one-on-one chance on the edge of the six-yard-box. Yet, possibly due to a lack of composure or, quite possibly, bobbles on the pitch, he sliced it badly wide. Subsequently, he wasn’t really allowed much time to get his head straight as in the 55th minute, he clashed heads when vying for a lofted ball; when he was asked to come off, presumably due to a potential concussion, he was visibly angry, tearing up and kicking the nearest bottle. He did, however, return to the pitch before being substituted in the 78th minute. The man who put in the cross that led to this incident, as well as knocked in the initial ball from the left for Cabezas’ big chance, was the hosts’ other main threat, Joao Rojas (No. 17, Emelec). He too often sought to beat his man and also looked for Cabezas from set-pieces, with perhaps the most successful one, a free-kick in the 14th minute, finding his man in some space in the area; yet, perhaps in a portent of things to come, the Atalanta man fluffed his lines. Expect to see more of Rojas in future games and he also showed here that he isn’t afraid to shoot, with a 35th-minute effort from outside the area curling, admittedly comfortably, into the goalkeeper’s gloves.

Briefly, two other Ecuador moments of note: Luis Segovia (No. 21, El Nacional) overhead-kicking a deflected Brazil free-kick off the line just after his side had been reduced to ten men. Secondly, the 72nd-minute surprise half-volley of Ajax-linked substitute Jordan Sierra (No. 15, Delfin) from at least 25 yards out that caught most by surprise, though ultimately dipped 2-3 yards wide.

brazilflag Brazil

Though they sometimes were put on the back-foot, Brazil’s defence was often well-organised, with most of the midfielders regularly seen doubling up and standing in close proximity to the back-line. At the other end, Douglas Luiz (No. 8, Vasco da Gama) was occasionally seen skipping about with the ball and often stood over it, due to his role as one of the set-piece takers. It was his free-kick that led to Segovia’s goal-line acrobatics and he also wasn’t far off scoring directly from one when, in the 77th minute, he curled a right-footed effort around the wall, though this was parried wide. Arguably like his chance in the 16th minute, striker Felipe Vizeu (No. 9, Flamengo) was also undoubtedly hard to miss. He at least made amends for this with a very well taken goal in the 52nd minute. Richarlison (No. 18, Fluminense), who caused problems and had a shot from range, was the man responsible for the key pass in both of these moves; the goal itself came from a particularly deft first-time low cross following a soaring long ball from Lyanco (No. 4, São Paulo). As for the glaring miss, Vizeu’s club colleague, midfielder Lucas Paqueta (No. 10, Flamengo), was the one who got the move rolling, playing a sublime, cutting ball from the halfway line towards Richarlison. He often exhibited a certain elegance and poise on the ball and nearly set up a goal at the death when he raced upfield on a counter, before sliding to energetic substitute Giovanny (No. 21, Atlético Paranaense), who struck too close to the goalkeeper.

Lastly, midfielder David Neres (No. 11, São Paulo) often looked like he could cause trouble from the right; he won a fair few free-kicks, some of which were taken by Caio Henrique (No. 7, Atlético Madrid), another potential threat Brazil have at their disposal.

To keep up-to-date with the latest from Ecuador 2017, please follow @DarrenSpherical on Twitter. The next games will be Uruguay vs Venezuela and Argentina vs Peru from Group B – expect to see another bout of talent-spotting from these encounters on Hispanospherical.com. 

Darren Spherical